Mail fraud is one of several “white collar” crimes that are typically investigated and prosecuted by the federal government; however, the State of Florida can also prosecute allegations of mail fraud. Like other “white collar” crimes, mail fraud is a non-violent crime committed with the goal of achieving financial gain. Although crimes such as mail fraud are often considered less serious than their violent counterparts, a conviction for mail fraud can result in a significant fine and/or a lengthy term of imprisonment.
If you have been identified as a target in a federal mail fraud investigation, or you have already been charged with mail fraud by the federal government, you need an experienced Orlando mail fraud attorney on your side as soon as possible. At Jonathon Rose P.A. we have the resources, skills, and commitment necessary to mount an aggressive defense that will protect you, your rights, and your future.
What Is Federal Mail Fraud?
The crime of mail fraud is governed by 18 U.S. Code § 1341 and requires two important elements for a conviction, including:
- Having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts)
- The use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).
Letters or flyers related to fraudulent schemes (such as Ponzi or pyramid schemes) sent through the mail are common examples of mail fraud. Because the mail system in the United States is regulated and operated by the federal government, mail does not necessarily need to cross state lines for it to meet the second element required for a mail fraud conviction. Even mail delivered by carriers such as FedEx or UPS can still lead to a mail fraud conviction because mail itself is considered an “instrument of interstate commerce.” As such, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the U.S. federal government jurisdiction.
What Are the Penalties for a Federal Mail Fraud Conviction?
Just because mail fraud is a non-violent “white collar” crime does not mean the penalties for a conviction are any less serious than other federal crimes. In fact, mail fraud is a felony, a conviction for which could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. When mail fraud occurs in conjunction with a presidentially declared disaster or involves a federal financial institution, the corresponding potential fine and imprisonment term are increased to $1,000,000 and 30 years respectively.
How Does the State of Florida Define Mail Fraud?
The Florida Communication Fraud Act (FCFA), found in Section 817.034 of the Florida Statutes, governs a variety of types of communications fraud, including mail fraud. The FCFA makes it a crime to “engage in a scheme to defraud and, in furtherance of that scheme, communicate with any person with the intent to obtain property from that person.”
The term “communicate” in the FCFA means “to transmit or transfer or to cause another to transmit or transfer signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligences of any nature in whole or in part by mail, or by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.”
What Are the Penalties for a Mail Fraud Conviction in the State of Florida?
The potential penalties for a mail fraud conviction in Florida will depend on the value of the money or property involved in the fraud or attempted fraud as follows:
- $299 or less — charged as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- $300 – $19,999 — charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- $20,000 – $49,999 — charged as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- $50,000 or more – the crime is charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Are There Defenses Available in a Mail Fraud Prosecution?
Only an experienced Orlando mail fraud attorney can evaluate your individual case and determine what defense strategy will work best; however, there are some common defenses, such as:
- No intent or knowledge on your part. Innocent people often find themselves in the middle of a mail fraud scheme unwittingly. Employees or even friends may help place correspondence in the mail with no knowledge of the content and/or intent of the correspondence.
- Mistake of fact. If you genuinely believed that what was communicated was true (or otherwise not intended to defraud), that mistake of fact may serve as the basis of a winning defense.
Contact an Experienced Orlando Mail Fraud Attorney
When your freedom and your future are potentially at stake, you need an experienced Orlando defense attorney on your side who was once a federal prosecutor himself. If you have been charged with mail fraud, or you believe you are the target of a mail fraud investigation, do not hesitate to contact experienced Orlando mail fraud lawyer Jonathan Rose P.A today by calling 407-894-4555 or filling out our online contact form.